Hard-to-curl hair has always been something I’ve struggled with because naturally my hair is just so bone straight, it doesn’t want to accept my proposal to look cute and curly. Especially because I wear my hair long, it gets heavy and I find that even the best curls tend to hold for only a short period of time. Luckily I’ve also had YEARS of trial and error, and I’ve come up with some pretty solid and true methods that help hard-to-curl hair stay curled and voluminous all day long!
1- Don’t use too much product that will weigh it down.
Every curling tutorial ever says you need heat protectant, gel, hairspray, three different texturizing sprays, root lifter, shiny smoothing spray, frizz control, a magic wand, your first born baby… cut through the crap. If you’re hair is hard to curl, you’re just weighing it down even more. My best advice is to choose the one or two products you REALLY need based on the type of hair you have and stick to those. Too many hair products are NOT a girl’s best friend if her hair is hard to curl!
2- Don’t condition your hair prior to curling.
This is something I’ve learned from a couple of hairdressers I know- sometimes the reason your straight hair won’t curl is because it is TOO healthy. I know it sounds weird and of course you want healthy hair, but if you avoid conditioner so that it isn’t holding some of the natural moisture, your hard to curl hair will curl and stay put much easier.
3- Consider cutting in some layers
This is especially useful if you have long hair that is hard to curl. Cut in some layers that are shorter, this is going to dramatically decrease the weight of your hair and allow for the curls to not be weighed down by extra length. I started cutting layers into my hair a few years ago and it has totally changed the game. The shorter I go, the better and longer my curls stay.
4- Use a heat protectant spray if your hair is damaged.
Damaged hair is great for curling, but it can also leave your curls looking more like frizz and then the frizz kind of straightens and it’s a whole frizzy, not-quite-curly, not-quite-straight mess. If you have severely damaged hair, use a heat protectant spray on your hair before curling (as one of your only hair products, remember we don’t want too much product!) to help keep the curls strong.
5- Use a texturizing spray or a beach spray.
I’ve found that in combination with not conditioning my hair first, using a beach spray before drying my wet hair or a texturizing spray directly on dry hair has been the most effective way to get the curls to stay. Dirty hair is the best for curling, so gumming it up with texture spray is a perfect solution!
6- Spray with hairspray lightly and brush it through before curling.
If you don’t have any texturizing spray, this is the route I suggest going. I also prefer to do this when I want very defined ringlets instead of waves because the hairspray tends to hold a more solid, tight shape.
7- Cool off those curls!
Part of the reason your curls might not be staying is because you’re pulling on them or letting them get weighed down by letting them fall straight while your hair is still warm and pliable after curling. Instead, try to allow the curl to cool completely before you touch it. Immediately after you pull it off the curling iron, us a Bobbi pin to pin the winglet to your head and allow it to cool before releasing the pin and letting the curl hold it’s natural shape. If you don’t want to use a Bobbi pin, you can always just be very careful when releasing the curl from the iron to not pull on the curl or touch it until it is completely cool.
8- Curl in layers.
This has really helped me because I have so much hair to work through. I feel like it allows me to work in smaller pieces, and I can allow each layer to cool off before curling the next layer, which leads to longevity with the curls.
9- Use smaller sections.
This might seem like a no brainer, but a smaller section means there is less hair in the curl to pull down on it and weight it down, so the curl stays put longer. For hard to curl hair, this is an absolute must.
10- For long hair, curl the piece in sections.
Instead of wrapping my hair around and around on top of each other to fit it all on the iron, I’ll just curl in two sections. I will curl the top half of the piece first, then curl the bottom half second. This lets more heat cover more area which is going to hold the curl in place.
11- Use your fingers to comb through instead of a brush.
A brush pulls on the curls and undoes them. If you’re looking for a blow-out look this is a great way to achieve it, but if you want your curls to look beauty or remain very curly, use your fingers to pull them apart.
12- Try going for a looser curl or beach wave look.
When you just can’t get those tight curls to stay no matter what you do, change strategy. I did a whole post on different methods for getting beachy waves here.
13- Use alternative curling methods
What I mean by this is.. NO HEAT. Instead, use sleep in curlers, try out rag curls, or braid slightly damp hair and sleep in it. I have had a lot more success with heatless curls than I ever have with heated curls. Pssst… I have a rag curl tutorial saved in my hair highlight on instagram!
14- Don’t forget the hairspray afterward!
Remember what I said about choosing just one or two products? Hairspray is a MUST. Choose a lightweight hairspray that still has strong hold so that your hair isn’t weighed down but has enough sticky-ness (is that what you call it?) to hold it’s shape all day long.